Archive for John Buckley

Radiohead Tops Tulip Frenzy’s 2016 Top 10 List

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2016 by johnbuckley100


Disastrous years, moments when the entire world threatens to unravel, produce the best music.  The bumper crops of great albums arise in years like 1968, 1974, 1979, 1998, 2001, 2008, as if the one mercy we may be granted as life unspools is a good soundtrack.

And so it is that as the gang at Tulip Frenzy sat down to discuss the best records of 2016 — a year we all concluded may have been the worst one for our nation since 1862, or at least 1930 — we found more albums in contention for our heralded Top 10 List than in any 12-month cohort since we began formally compiling our lists earlier this century.

Here’s whose albums didn’t make the list, so you get a sense of the competitive sweepstakes: Angel Olsen, Parquet Courts, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Fleshtones, The  Mekons, The Rolling Stones, Kevin Morby, Cheena, Black Mountain, Heavens Gateway Drugs, Feels, Wire, Ty Segall, and Capsula.  Longtime readers of Tulip Frenzy will recognize several of these bands as among our very faves, and each produced remarkable recs we listened to over and over and over again.  We considered Capsula’s glorious Santa Rosa — the most melodic punk album since their 2006 Songs & Circuits — literally until this morning, and in the end couldn’t make room for it.  Kevin Morby’ s Singing Saw was the soundtrack to our springtime.  And yet none of these records made the cut.  Wow, so who did?


The #10 Album Of 2016: Morgan Delt’s Phase Zero

In August it was abundantly clear that Phase Zero by Morgan Delt was going to be our Psych Album of The Year, virtually guaranteeing its placement on the 2016 Top 10 List. We called it a “gorgeous, weird, melodic, inventive, soothing, trippy self-produced album in which he plays all the instruments.” It held up in the months since, and his show at DC9 revealed him to be a young beanpole hippy with flowing red locks and a kickass band.  We suspect he’ll move up the list in the months and years ahead.

The #9 Album of 2016: David Bowie’s Blackstar

Like a great grey owl showing up on your fencepost, David Bowie’s death coming at the very beginning of the year was a portent of the disaster to come.  That Blackstar was released literally the day before we got news of his untimely end was like a cruel joke, or the most brilliant performance-art piece of all time.  At that time, we wrote, “That he finished with Blackstar is like the Beatles going out with Abbey Road: an amazing grace upon which to conclude one of the transcendent careers in contemporary music.”  Some have put Blackstar at the top of their 2016 list.  We think as a concept it definitely deserves that, but as music, it was merely great — especially the way Bowie’s coda brought him back to his teenage enthusiasm for the jazz of Gary Mulligan.  But whereas 2013’s The Next Day was high on our list, we reduce Bowie’s finale to a few amazing songs, but not anywhere close to the best complete album of 2016.


The #8 Album of 2016: Quilt’s Plaza

We called Plaza Quilt’s masterpiece when it was released in February, and it has held up well against walk-off home runs, 50-yard field goals into the wind, and the hot streaks of others. “These guys are so much more than an art-school project,” we wrote then, referencing how they were formed in Boston a few years back.  Plaza is to Quilt’s last album, Held In Splendor, as Revolver was to Rubber Soul: paradoxically more commercial and slick, and yet more experimental and ambitious. Anna Fox Rochinski’s voice is in a category with Syd Straw and Neko Case — yeah, I just wrote that — and when she is singing the 60% of the Quilt’s songs that joyfully get released, this Beatles-influenced band is transcendent.


The #7 Album of 2016: P.J. Harvey’s The Hope Six Demonstration Project

We had high hopes for Polly Jean’s album, which was mostly focused on her drive-by tour of the worst nabes in our hometown of D.C..  After all, in 2012, even though we ultimately gave Radiohead the top honors in Tulip Frenzy’s Top 10 List (c), her Let England Shake claimed runner-up honors, and we believe her Stories Of The City, Stories Of The Sea could well be the previous decade’s strongest work.  But it was weird that, as powerful as this new record was, it seemed like a slight misstep.  We said at the time, “when she creates an album this beautiful, and this powerful, she’s revealing, once again, that Polly Jean Harvey is one of the very few artists in 2016 using rock’n’roll to grapple with the world at this level.” Yet over the course of the year, we played it far less than we expected, given how much we adored the original song released from it, “The Wheel.”  This is a powerful, serious work of art, but it’s placement in the back half of this list reveals it to be a little less enjoyable than we would have wished.


The #6 Album of 2016: Cosmonauts’ A-OK

We have long had a soft spot in our heart for the So-Cal psych-punk band Cosmonauts, and with A-OK they produced not only the summer’s soundtrack, they broke through as purveyors of catchy tunes thundering along with a power and pace that would make fellow Orange County natives Anton Newcombe and Ty Segall equally proud.  A long time ago, when explaining why Elvis Costello got more airplay than the Clash, Joe Strummer said, “Well Elvis, maybe he sings a bit better than we do.” Singing is not Cosmonauts’ greatest strength, though it is serviceable enough.  But the comparison to Strummer’s Clash, yeah, works.


The #5 Album of 2016: Tim Presley’s The Wink

Tim Presley has been at or near the top of our Top 10 list each year since his Darker My Love took top honors in 2010.  We thought White Fence’s To The Recently Found Innocent was not only the best rec of 2014, it has secured a permanent place in the canon, possibly our favorite album of the past decade.  We know that White Fence could rock hard live, even as Presley’s home recordings under that name could  at times seem incomplete, low-fi psychedelic noodling.  When his collaboration with Cate LeBon, under the name Drinks, came out in 2015, we feared the worst, for it seemed like a return to the bad habit of meandering, underpowered preciousness.  But woo hoo, The Wink was a remarkable “solo album” from a guy whose White Fence recs are mostly made with just him, alone with his cat, and occasionally Ty Segall.  In October we wrote, “The Wink is an astonishingly great album, the product of an eccentric genius with an oddball sensibility and a reverence for the artists he admires. The title track sounds like it was ripped from a master tape of Bowie’s The Lodger — an homage to a dead hero in which Presley took the time to reverse engineer the best songs from Bowie’s best album. A dozen bands before now have tried capturing the spare perfection of the first Gang of Four album, but on “Clue,” Presley’s the first artist I know of who has ever truly caught the interplay between Jon King’s vocals and Andy Gill’s guitar. But of course, the major artist that Presley channels best on his solo album is Tim Presley, for we hear throughout the 12 songs here chord progressions and melodies spanning his career…”


The #4 Album of 2016: Psychic Ills Inner Journey Out

We were really unprepared for what a great record Inner Journey Out was, writing upon its early summer release, “Inner Journey Out is for playing when heading on a road trip to Big Bend, to Marfa, on that long thin ribbon of highway wending toward the West as the shimmering heat makes the cactus liquid.” The fact that Tres Warren and Elisabeth Hart are transplanted Texans living in New York partially accounts for how their gritty, urban Velvets-inluenced sound also has one foot firmly planted in country blues.  With Hope Sandoval singing marvelously on “I Don’t Mind,” it was easy to think of Inner Journey Out having a spiritual link to Mazzy Star, but the album this most reminded us of, in a strange way, was Exile On Main Street, an ambitious, sprawling work that never drifted far from classic American roots-music idioms.  Every time we played this record, it brought a smile to our face, and from mid-summer on, we were chanting, “Top 5, baby.  This one’s a contender.”


The #3 Album of 2016: Alejandro Escovedo’s Burn Something Beautiful

For more than 20 years, every Alejandro Escovedo album has been a source of solace, an inspiration.  He is so perfectly placed to appeal to us: an Austin roots-rock hero cum occasional chamber rocker who played in the late ’70s San Francisco punk band The Nuns, and growing up loved Bowie and Mott The Hoople as much as we did.  But after 2010’s great Street Songs of Love, which was the #2 album on our list that year, we wondered if Al would again be so inspired.  What a joy it was to discover that in Burn Something Beautiful, he may have produced his best record of this century.  We exulted when it came out, “anyone who has ever thrilled to hear how Alejandro assembles a classic rock’n’roll album based upon his experiences and unique vantage point will see this one for what it is: his best album in this late hard-rocking phase of an amazing career.” A big part of the joy this record inspired was the sound of his band, with Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, mainstays of Robyn Hitchcock’s recent albums, at its core.  The strength of Burn Something Beautiful was Al himself, whose great songwriting and, on this one, fantastic voice made this a record we will playing for as long as we’ve played With These Hands and Thirteen Years.


The #2 Album of 2016: Thee Oh Sees A Weird Exits

John Dwyer, it turns out, is an old fashioned band leader, a figure as much like Miles Davis as the punk and garage rocker he started out being.  On A Weird Exits (and its shorter companion, An Odd Entrances, which came out last month), Dwyer cranks up the latest incarnation of Thee Oh Sees — a double-drum, bass + all Dwyer combo — to take us on a musical journey through psych, prog rock, jazz, and even blues.  If you tuned in even as late as 2011’s Castlemania, you might never have predicted what this particular Oh Sees album would sound like.  Of course, tucked way in the back of the latest issue of Uncut, we get a sense of Dwyer’s heterodox sensibility, for in a feature entitled, “My Life In Music,” the records he calls out as his favorites are by Can, Grand Funk Railroad, Robert Fripp, Hiragi Fukuda, Michael Yonkers, Uriah Heap, Eric Dolphy, and Henry Flynt & The Insurrections.  What, you were expecting The Germs and Pere Ubu?  I might have… But nah, this guy goes way deeper.  As we noted in August when A Weird Exits came out, it’s time to take John Dwyer seriously.  “In just a 30-minute snippet of time, such a short interlude in your life, John Dwyer has taken us from the most exciting garage rock of the epoch to deep, moving contemplation. The guy has it all, including originality. A Weird Exits, its title rendered ambiguous by the extra “s”, is not only the best Oh Sees album since Floating Coffin, it should be that album that makes audiences of all stripes sit up and notice. It’s time to take John Dwyer seriously.”


The #1 Album of 2016: Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool

The only flaw on this album was the absence of a hyphen between “Moon” and “Shaped” in its title.  By including concert staples such as “Identikit” and “True Love Waits,” A Moon Shaped Pool felt a lot like Radiohead finishing up old business before it could move on.  With Jonny Greenwood’s orchestration of amazing songs like “Burn The Witch,” Radiohead came as close as can be to Steve Reich territory, which just confirms they’re playing at a different level from all contemporaries.  We gave The King Of Limbs #1 honors in 2012, even as other critics exalted P.J. Harvey’s Let England Shake and we still think we were right.  With the addition this year, though, of In Rainbows Disk 2 — an unexpected release of companion songs from the 2007 original — Radiohead has spent more time in our earbuds than probably any band other than Bob Dylan, which fans o’ T Frenzy will recognize as a profound statement.  We loved A Moon Shaped Pool, recognized it right away for what it is, a peerless, non-rock’n’roll album that added up to the best music of 2016.


Introducing Tulip Frenzy Photography: Images By John Buckley

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 2, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Tulip Frenzy Photos

Some years ago, when Tulip Frenzy launched, I gave it a subtitle: “Commentary On Music (Mostly), With An Occasional Photo.” Over time, though, Tulip Frenzy became a blog in which I published photos and occasionally wrote about music. It’s not that music became less important to me.  Clearly, my passion for photography became more intense, even as fewer were the albums or concerts that could prompt the kind of fanzine gushing that was the motivation for much of the writing in the early days.

So last week, I began publishing Tulip Frenzy Photography: Images By John Buckley, a freestanding site on which I’ll exhibit, and possibly sell, my photography.

Think of it as a sister site to Tulip Frenzy.  Bookmark it if you’d like.  Rest assured that I will still publish both the occasional photo and the occasional music piece on Tulip Frenzy.  But if the photos are worth a damn, you may see them migrate into gallery space on the sister site.  I hope you like it.

Buy Affordable Prints Of Great Photographs From The Stephen Bartels Gallery

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 27, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Flowers In Monochrome

If you are in the market for affordable photographic prints, you now can buy work from the the online store launched today by The Stephen Bartels Gallery.

We’re very pleased to be associated with so many terrific photographers at this great gallery.  And quite pleased our American friends no longer need to travel to London to buy our work!


New Photographs Exhibited At The Stephen Bartels Gallery

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 10, 2013 by johnbuckley100

SBG Oct 1

This morning, three new images of ours were exhibited at The Stephen Bartels Gallery in London.  To check out the new work, and some amazing work by photographers whom we are honored to join, go here.

Very Pleased To Have My Photography Represented By The Stephen Bartels Gallery In London

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 11, 2013 by johnbuckley100

The Stephen Bartels Gallery in London has emerged as the premier showcase for photographers around the world who are dedicated to taking pictures using Leica equipment.  I am very pleased to announce that, as of this morning, my photography will be represented by Stephen.

The page dedicated to our work links to three photographs that longtime readers of Tulip Frenzy will recognize, including one of the images chosen by the jury for the Leica Store in Washington’s “D.C. As I See It” exhibition this past spring.

The Stephen Bartels Gallery has a joint exhibition with the Leica Store in Mayfair, which will run through the weekend.

Check out the gallery online, or go visit it when you are in London.  We’re very pleased to join some fantastic photographers, all of whose work you should check out.  And very pleased to be represented by Stephen.

Some Early Readers’ Reviews Of “The Geography Lesson”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 1, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Looking for something to read this weekend?  Check out my novel, The Geography Lesson.  But don’t just take my word for how enjoyable it is, check out what readers have said about it in their reviews on sites selling it.

Here’s one, from the Amazon page: “Love, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness and adventure. Told with great humor against a backdrop created by an author with a flawless eye for Washington and points beyond. With painstakingly rendered detail, Buckley brings several different distinct worlds to life: The old-school, Mad Men world of adventure journalists; the last days of when the institutions of the nation’s capital were ruled largely by New England blue bloods; the modern-day, rarified milieu of America’s privileged classes; and the exotic human and physical landscapes of the American West. Here’s something that sneaks up on you: It’s a Washington novel that’s outside the mold of any ever written because it never claims to be one. It paints pictures of political lessons rather than preaches them. Most important, we care about the lovingly drawn characters because we’re allowed to join them in truly honest journeys of self-discovery. A pitch-perfect triumph!”

And another: “The Geography Lesson is a fun, fast trip through time to the world of late 1960’s Washington and the Western U.S and back again, with a side of Peruvian adventure. As a fan of Edward Abbey, I loved the excursion through the Canyonlands. As a fan of National Geographic, I loved the Society as the backdrop. Now if only I could get myself to Peru!”

And yet another: “The cover art points to the story line of this entertaining novel, which follows the adventures of National Geographic explorer journalists. The plot was gripping, making me want to read quickly, to find out what happens in the end to the appealing narrator. But I made myself slow down. It’s worth taking your time over this one. Buckley is a Washington insider, with an amazing eye for detail, and if you’re at all interested in Washington media of the last 40 years or so you’ll want to take your time and enjoy every page.”

You can buy it via Amazon, Nook, or Booktango!

Still need convincing?  Well, check out this sample chapter.  And have a nice weekend.

My New Novel, “The Geography Lesson,” Is Available Via Amazon Kindle And Other Sites

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 6, 2013 by johnbuckley100

The Geography Lesson COVER_600x900

I’m very pleased to announce the publication of my third novel, The Geography Lesson, which is available via Amazon Kindle and other sites.  In the days ahead, it will be available through the iBookstore, the Nook store, and all such upstanding digital retailers.

The Geography Lesson is a novel about the consequences emanating from a botched expedition by the National Geographic Society– which may be the last great Washington institution never to have come under the scope of a comic novelist.  Forty years after the 1968 discovery, and subsequent looting, of a magnificent Anasazi  ruin in Utah, the novel’s narrator, a retired National Geographic writer, spies in a magazine a photo of a vase he last saw in an obscure canyon out West all those years ago, and in an instant, he knows exactly who betrayed him — and one of America’s most storied institutions.

Ready to learn more, maybe even ready to buy it at the low, low price of $3.95?  Well, you can go you can go directly to

Still need persuading?  Well, here’s what Robert M. Poole, former executive editor of National Geographic and author of Explorers House: National Geographic and the World It Made, has to say about it: “With The Geography Lesson, John Buckley has produced a novel that is part mystery story, part adventure, and pure delight.  He guides the reader on a fast-paced voyage of discovery, from the silent, unspoiled ruins of the Anasazi cliffs to the solemn grandeur of the Inca highlands to the Byzantine maze of the National Geographic Society.  All serve as backdrop for Timothy Prescott’s journey of the heart, fueled by one man’s need to reconcile lost love, betrayed friendship, and what seems to be a brazen assault on a cultural treasure.  Buckley is a masterful guide who writes with clarity and grace that never intrude on a narrative you will savor and remember.”

Ready to go to the website and buy it?

Look, we often don’t come out from behind the mask of Tulip Frenzy, but in this instance, allow me to say this.  I believe The Geography Lesson is stronger than either of my two well-reviewed prior novels, Family Politics or Statute of Limitations.  It’s a fun read, if I do say so myself.

If you read it, and like it, you could:

  1. Leave a review on the Kindle page.
  2. You could tweet out a link to your zillions of Twitter followers.  (A cut-and-paste ready sample: “Go read the new novel by @johnbuckley100, The Geography Lesson, which is really terrific!” And then you could link to  Oh, and by the way, go ahead and follow @johnbuckley100 on Twitter, and I’ll keep you posted on the book’s progress.
  3. Post a link on your Facebook page and alert your zillions of friends.

The most important thing, though, is reading the book, which I hope you enjoy.

The Business Of Happiness Is Out: GO BUY IT.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 8, 2010 by johnbuckley100

Today, The Business of Happiness by Ted Leonsis with John Buckley was published, and for those who want a terrific, inspirational, cannot-put-it-down read, go here.

For those who want to see Ted’s terrific interview on CNBC this morning, go here.

Tulip Frenzy will, this day only, drop the mask and its author will admit what a blast it was writing the book with Ted Leonsis.

Ted is one of the great human beings on Earth, a brilliant executive, a fun and unpretentious person, and the living refutation of the biblical adage that it is harder for a rich man to get to Heaven than a camel through a needle’s eye.  He has a really wonderful story and a great perspective on happiness.

Go buy the book.  You’ll learn from it, as I did working with Ted on it.  Not only that, but buying the book will keep the lights turned on at Tulip Frenzy World HQ.

What are you waiting for?

The Business of Happiness

The Business of Happiness - A Book by Ted LeonsisAvailable in hardcover or for Kindleat

Order The Business of Happiness at

Uncut’s Top 2008 Album List Produces One New Entry on Tulip Frenzy’s Top 10 List: The Felice Brothers

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 14, 2008 by johnbuckley100

It happens every year: Tulip Frenzy publishes its Top 10 list, and within days, some new band or album turns up on someone else’s list, and we go, “Damn, how did we miss that one?”  Uncut Magazine has just come out with their Top 50 list, and honestly, there is no way we would revise ours to feature Portishead as the Best Album of the Year. (Portishead?  Oh, come on.) But the Felice Brothers, yeah, how did we miss their eponymous sophomore offering?  It’s a beaut.  The Felice Brothers sounds like a lost recording session in Big Pink with the Rock of Ages horn section visiting the Band for a cloudy weekend fortified by beer and hearty stew.  That the Bros. hail from Woodstock way makes it even better.  We have long since accepted that Uncut‘s taste in British music doesn’t jibe with ours — hence the Portishead and Elbow kisses — but they do have a knack for unearthing prime Americana, from The Willard Grant Conspiracy to, now, the Felice Brothers.  These guys are so good, they just knocked Ry Cooder out of the #10 spot.  Honestly, given The Felice Brothers’ authenticity, we don’t think he’d mind.

Tulip Frenzy’s Best Album of The Year: Bob Dylan’s “Tell Tale Signs”

Posted in Music with tags , , , on December 8, 2008 by johnbuckley100

Back in October when Tell Tale Signs came out, Tulip Frenzy likened it to Peter Matthiessen’s great novel Shadow Country, released earlier this year, and tying together, while wholly recreating, three of Matthiessen’s novels written in the 1990s.  We wondered then if the house rules allowed for Tell Tale Signs to be considered for Tulip Frenzy’s Album Of The Year, an august designation, but one usually accorded to, well, new music.  But then Shadow Country won the National Book Award, which would tend to indicate that a reworked masterpiece is still a masterpiece, no matter when portions were recorded. Besides, it was new to us.  Unreleased songs from Dylan’s late innings hitting streak, some wholly new, some reworked, this was a revelation. And objectively, it was the …best… album…of…the…year.  We’re grateful he put it out, for not to have had this released would have been like getting only the version of Ulysses that was sent to the printers, without the 1/3rd of the novel that the blind and aging Joyce added in the galley margins.  Dylan has famously rebelled against static reworking of his material:  “Why play a song the same you played it on whatever day you recorded it?” Turned this way and that, these songs reveal an important truth: that not only has Dylan’s work since 1989 been every bit as strong as anything he did in the 1960s, it’s been stronger than anything anyone else has done since then, too.

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